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Misperceptions of Opossums

Mike Keeling/Flickr

Our region is home to hundreds of thousands of opossums, but for a creature so commonly found in backyards, it is the subject of many misperceptions.

One myth I often hear is that opossums and possums are the same animal. In fact, our native Virginia opossums evolved in eastern North America and were named for the Algonquian word apassum, meaning “white beast.” Possums, on the other hand, are native to Australia and named for its slim resemblance to our own animal. Our opossum is a marsupial – North America’s only one actually – and its distant relatives do include other Down Under species like kangaroos and koalas. But otherwise, the 2 species are quite different.

W. Brooks Paternotte took the helm of Irvine Nature Center as executive director in July 2013 and immediately began building on the strong 35-year foundation. Brooks is a Baltimore native who was a teacher, coach, advisor, dean and Head of the Middle School during his 13 years at Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore. He is also an instructor and ambassador of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and is a Leave No Trace Master, as well as an avid outdoorsman and a features writer for FlyLife Magazine.
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